Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (12A)
Jack Reacher returns to the Headquarters of his old military unit to meet with a new colleague and friend: Major Susan Turner. When he arrives he is told that she has been arrested for espionage. Reacher suspects that she has been framed and sets out to find out who framed her and why. Along the way he encounters a headstrong 15 year old girl who may or may not be his biological daughter.
“Two things will happen in the next ninety seconds. First, that phone will ring, then you’ll be the one wearing these cuffs…on your way to prison.” Those are the first words spoken by Jack Reacher in this film. Tom Cruise delivers those lines with a trademark intensity that suits the character of Reacher to the nines.
I really enjoyed the first Jack Reacher movie, which was based on the novel: One Shot. It had a cast teeming with actors that I have enormous fondness for, but also Jai Courtney. I thought it was going to be one of those films that would be a one off, like most of Tom Cruise’s other films with the exception of the Mission Impossible franchise. However, much to my delight a sequel was announced and here we are with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Is it any good?
In short: yes. I liked it a lot. Admittedly the villain is woefully underwritten and devoid of any real character unlike Werner Herzog’s chilling performance as Zec Chelovek (the villain from the first film). Aside from that this sequel has everything you could want from this sort of film, it is very Jack Reacher. That’s down to Tom Cruise who plays the titular Reacher with that effortless charisma that Tom Cruise simply oozes. He turns in another top-notch Cruise performance: he is charismatic, he has well-timed quips, he punches a load of bad guys, he looks good topless and he does stunts that probably posed a serious risk of ending his life.
In the supporting role of Major Susan Turner is Cobie Smulders who I first saw in hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother and has gone on to star in multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the under-rated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and even voiced Wonder Woman in The LEGO Movie. Her performance is a pretty solid badass one with her doling out her fair share of bone-crunching punches and getting to do the arm-pumping “Tom Cruise Run”. It’s always good to see a badass female character in a film and while she is certainly no Jillian Holtzmann she isn’t the designated damsel in distress by any means.
If I’m being honest the plot of this film isn’t especially meaty unlike the first Jack Reacher movie, but this is one film that doesn’t suffer from having a less intellectually hefty narrative. The plot is relatively simple, which is good because if it was a film with Christopher Nolan levels of complexity you’d forget half the plot with each dazzling action sequence. With Never Go Back once the action set pieces have ended it takes no time at all to remember what has happened so far and why. The action set pieces are absolutely incredible, they’re not quite as awe-inspiring as some of the moments in the Mission Impossible franchise and none of them are nearly as outrageously barmy as some of the set pieces in the Fast and Furious franchise. They are fast paced enough, explodey enough and punchy enough and the film is always leading us from one cool moment to another.
(I should also mention that I saw this film in a 4DX screening, which basically amounts to a real life version of Feel-Around from The Kentucky Fried Movie. When it rained, water was sprayed at me, when there was an explosion, the chair shook and when there was a car chase I was flung around like I was sitting on a mechanical bull rather than in a cinema seat. It was an oddly fun experience.)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a fun action-packed romp that isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. It isn’t as good as the first instalment, but the ample amounts of pumped-up action sequences it manages to be an entertaining couple of hours.